Leaving Nebraska: Revisiting Willa Cather in the Pandemic

Willa Cather can make you believe that Nebraska is a little more idyllic than your particular piece of America. Prairie flowers bloom near fields of waving wheat. Sturdy immigrant farmers build sturdy farmhouses and some residents install hammocks on the upper porch to sleep out under the stars on summer evenings. Even the fierce winter […]

The Enduring Myth of the Texas Rangers

While the Washington football team and the Cleveland baseball team were both undergoing public struggles about the appropriateness of their nicknames, my own favorite baseball team, the Texas Rangers,was called out by several national columnistsfor a similar soul-searching. Theodore Roosevelt, (yes, THAT Teddy Roosevelt) made the case for both sides back before there was even […]

Pulling Back the Veil in the Vale of Opioids: Beth Macy’s Dopesick

Three months into our current pandemic we know the scenario. “Epidemics unfold ‘like a vector phenomenon, where you have one individual who seeds that community and then the spread begins.’”(127)  Dr. Anna Lembke could have been talking about COVID-19, but the Stanford specialist in addiction medicine was talking about opioids and ace Virginia reporter Beth […]

Without the Moon, Where Are We?: A Review of Ross Douthat’s Decadent Society

It’s not that Ross Douthat is angry with us, he just seems disappointed. We have the potential to do so much more with ourselves, as a civilization, but we’re culturally exhausted, economically stagnant, and unable to muster the wherewithal even to reproduce ourselves. Really, ever since the moonshot in 1969 we haven’t had our mojo. […]

Discovering Carson, Discovering Herself: A Review of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

Jenn Shapland is no doubt right that those who fall under the spell of Carson McCullers are an obsessive lot. (And I count myself among them.) As she surveyed the landscape in writing her new book My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, she found that “everyone had a claim to lay, an attachment to prove. Everybody […]

An Old Man Remembers Love, (and You’ll Want to Read It)

I made the mistake of introducing myself to Philip Roth by reading one his later work. Indignation, a 2008 novel, drew on some of Roth’s familiar themes—Jewish identity, American identity, relationships—but it had none of the spark I was hoping for. It felt like an older man’s attempt to imagine himself back into first love. […]

The Evil and The Magnificent: Katherine James’ Story of Love and Addiction

There are so many ways that a story of addiction can go wrong, especially when it is narrated within a framework of fall and redemption. On one level, the stories are so similar that we feel we can trace the arc before opening the cover—the prelapsarian idyll, the first hints of trouble, the descent into […]